Commentary

Will Strasburg be the same?

A look at recent Tommy John surgery survivors can help us find the answer

Updated: March 23, 2012, 10:16 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
Stephen StrasburghAP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinStephen Strasburg's 1.50 ERA in 24 innings late last season was certainly encouraging.

Before suffering a torn ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery, Stephen Strasburg was pitching at a level few men have been able to match, striking out 12.2 batters per nine innings in 12 big league starts in 2010. Strasburg is nearly 19 months removed from surgery, and the Washington Nationals are hopeful that their ace will be able to match his previous dominance and establish himself as one of the National League's best starting pitchers.

Is that a realistic goal for a pitcher in his first season after returning from elbow surgery? A look at recent history will help us find the answer.